Word is members of the state Legislature will sit out this year’s Mackinac Island Policy Conference. Or maybe not.
Ari Adler, spokesman for Speaker Jase Bolger, said he doesn’t expect a single member of the House Republican Caucus to show up because 1) it will be held on a Tuesday through Thursday, when they have session, and 2) it’s slated for May 29-31, and they’ve vowed to deliver the state budget to Gov. Rick Snyder by June 1.
In years past the annual schmooze-fest would typically run from Wednesday through Friday, and lawmakers could drive up after Thursday’s legislative session and still make it for Thursday night dinner and all of Friday’s activities.
But the good news that the Grand Prix will return to Detroit this year threw conference planners at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce into a tizzy.
“We had people who had to be two places at the same time,” Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said Friday. “The Penske organization reached out to us and said what can we do?
“Our number one priority is to promote Detroit area businesses and economic development so we are thrilled that the Grand Prix is back. This is a real emotional shot in the arm for Detroit.”
Baruah noted that even if the schedule hadn’t shifted by a day, lawmakers would still have been stuck in Lansing with the budget clock ticking. He’s hoping they might still make it to the island.
“If they can beat the June 1 date than we’ll accommodate them,” Baruah said.
Asked if he’s made any special arrangements, such as holding rooms for tardy lawmakers, Baruah wouldn’t share details but said discussions are going on ”behind the scenes.”
Roger Penske, founder and chairman of the Penske Corporation, is on Thursday’s schedule as a panelist. The conference line-up also includes TIME Magazine Editor-at-Large Fareed Zakaria and Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr.
As for the governor, he’s definitely planning to attend, according to Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher. Baruah said Snyder was part of the planning team for the event, and will make multiple stage appearances as well as hosting a soiree at his summer cottage on the island.